Like the Sarasota and Manatee submarket, Southwest Florida's largest commercial sales of the past year involved apartment projects.
Three of the top five largest sales were for multifamily communities, which grew in popularity during 2016 as a result of increased household formations, greater discretionary income for housing, consumer preference and increased job creations.
The plethora of bigger apartment deals in Charlotte, Lee and Collier counties stands in contrast to the activity in the three-county submarket in 2015, when not a single multifamily deal cracked the top five. Then, the top deals in the market were of a wide variety, from retail to a high-end beachfront hotel and senior housing to raw land. This year, retail and land still have a presence, but apartments were the preferred investment vehicle, accounting for more than half of the top sales and nearly 70% of the total dollar volume of the top five transactions.
1. Gulfstream Isles Apartments: $95.25 million
Starwood Capital Group, the giant Greenwich, Conn.-based investment firm, executed the largest multifamily deal of the year in any of the three Gulf Coast submarkets in 2016.
The purchase of Gulfstream Isles, in Fort Myers, also is the largest multifamily deal of the past decade along the Gulf Coast.
At least part of the expansive purchase price can be attributed to size: At 936 units, the community contains more than twice as many residences as the other multifamily projects that ranked among top deals for 2016. Prior to the sale, Gulfstream Isles had been owned by Chicago-based investment firm Waterton, records show. Built in three phases beginning in 1998 on 39 acres, Gulfstream Isles today is 95% occupied. Its 42 buildings are augmented by amenities such as swimming pools, tennis courts, dog parks, children's playgrounds, a fitness center, media room and a coffee shop.
2. Channelside Luxury Apartments: $55 million
Like Gulfstream Isles, the acquisition of the Channelside apartments stemmed largely from positive job growth in and around Fort Myers. For 18 months prior to the complex's April purchase by Meyers Group, for instance, the metropolitan statistical area that includes the Lee County city gained 8,000 jobs, the result of Hertz Global Holdings' relocation of its world headquarters to the area and other growth.
That, in turn, fueled increased household formations and spurred desire for upscale, amenity-laden residences like the 325-unit Channelside, which was completed in 2015 — the same year former Related Cos. executive and Cornerstone Group principal Stuart Meyers formed Meyers Group, based in Coral Gables.
Meyers is no stranger to Florida multifamily projects. While at Cornerstone, he developed 60 communities containing 18,000 units and valued in excess of $1 billion. At Channelside, units with 9-foot, 4-inch ceiling heights are augmented by a saltwater swimming pool and an upscale fitness center.
3. Center of Bonita Springs: $52 million
AmCap Inc.'s purchase of the 285,930-square-foot Center of Bonita Springs fit with its strategy to acquire “necessary retail” anchored by grocery stores.
Anchored by Publix Super Markets Inc., Old Time Pottery, Crunch Fitness and NCH Immediate Care, the shopping center was renovated shortly prior to AmCap's acquisition. The Stamford, Conn.-based company says there are more than 79,000 residents within five miles of the center, with an average annual household income of $90,650. Founded in 1979, today AmCap owns 27 retail properties in two dozen states, according to its website.
4. Arium Gulfshore Apartments: $47 million
Carroll Organization of Atlanta saw the value of the Southwest Florida multifamily sector before many competitors. In buying the 368-unit Summer Wind apartment complex in Naples, the company obtained a community with high barriers to entry and a location — on Airport Pulling Road North and Pine Ridge Road — near restaurants and shopping.
The one- and two-bedroom complex features a slate of standard garden-style complex amenities, ranging from a swimming pool to tennis and basketball courts. Rental rates range from $1,032 to more than $1,700 monthly.
5. 2,576 Acres on Jones Mining Road, North Naples: $38.5 million
27th/Pico Boulevard Ltd. Partnership, a group led by billionaire Palm Beach investor Jeff Greene, bought this tract not so much for its ongoing mining and agricultural operations, but because its location in North Naples is where much of Collier County's residential development seems to be headed.
In Greene's case, the 2,576 acres on Jones Mining Road, roughly a dozen miles from Interstate 75, represented the largest agricultural or mining-related land sale of 2016 in Collier County, and among the largest in that area for the past decade. Since the mid-May purchase, there have been few clues as to what fate may await the property. For now, it remains a farm and a mine, even as Collier officials have begun assessing future growth needs with an eye toward utilizing North Naples land.